Kozhikode, January 11: The only Kerala-based side of Hero I-League 2017-18, Gokulam Kerala FC will now be tested by Indian Arrows, the youngest outfit of the League as the Yellow brigade will host the developmental side of AIFF at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode on Friday (January 12).
The I-League debutants are not in the right shape at the moment and their experiment with their roster is continuing. Odafa Okolie who has 100-odd I-League goals under his belt is the newest recruitment for them but he did little justice to his name on his debut for the Keralites.
Coach Bino George didn't hide his frustration during the pre-match press conference too. "Balwinder has chicken pox. He is admitted to the hospital. I have no idea what is happening", he could not hide his displeasure as he is still struggling to find the right combination on the half-way mark of the league.
Meanwhile, he reiterated that the foreign signings should contribute more to churn out some positive results. "The problem with us is the lack of foreign players. We signed Odafa because it was easy to complete the paperwork. He has scored a lot of goals."
He further added that Arrows boys have a great future ahead as they have their age on their side. "Indian Arrows are showing a lot of promise for the future. Their possession and passing are all really good. The small mistakes they are committing is due to their age. They will threaten if given space."
However, the young guns who have taken everyone by surprise until now were on the receiving end during their last outing against Shillong Lajong FC.
The Kerala-based side also had the last laugh against the young guns in the first leg played at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. Indian Arrows coach Matos recalled that match as 'a strange game.'
"The match against Gokulam in Delhi was a strange game. They scored the first goal from a corner. Their second goal was from a free-kick. At the end, they got the three points."
He informed that the team is travelling constantly and it might take a toll on the boys in terms of giving their 100% on the field.
"For us, tomorrow will be difficult. We are not in the best shape. Since December 19, we have played so many matches, so very short time to recover. It was a Lot of travelling. These are not excuses but reality. It is not easy for these young boys."
Meanwhile, coach Matos tested a new defence setup last day having rested Boris Singh, Sanjeev Stalin and Anwar Ali. Ashish Rai, Roshan Singh completely justified their selection with a special mention for goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill who was only playing his third match for the Matos-coached team in the Hero I-League 2017-18.
Matos further informed that Sanjeev Stalin is still nursing the injury and he's unlikely to play his part on Friday.
The Portuguese coach mentioned that his team is in a continuous-learning mode and they'll continue to do so.
"We will try our best tomorrow to win. For us, it is important that the fans and the players are satisfied with the way we play. From every game, we learn", he concluded.
Match starts at 5:30pm IST
Live telecast on Star Sports 2/2 HD
Streamed live on Hotstar, Jio TV